Monday, September 1, 2014

Shrek: The True Love Guru

One of the most beloved Dreamworks movies of all time is the 2001 gem Shrek. It tells the tale of a mean ogre whose whole life is turned around when he meets Fiona, a beautiful girl who every night goes through a transformation results into her turning into an ogre herself. The movie was a hit, generating over 250 million at the box office. This success, I believe, is partly due to its challenge of the stereotype that true love and who a person truly is is not based on external appearance.

Shrek is ugly. His skin is green, his gut is large, and his breath reeks of onions. But over the course of the movie, the audience comes to realize that he's really not as mean as everyone thinks he is. They only look at his color and size and assume he's out to get them. The allegory to racism and profiling aren't exactly subtle, but seeing how it's become such the problem that it is in America, I think getting straight to the point may be appropriate. 
Donkey: Hey, what's your problem, Shrek, what you got against the whole world anyway, huh?
Shrek: Look, I'm not the one with the problem, okay? It's the world that seems to have a problem with ME! People take one look at me and go "Aargh! Help! Run! A big stupid ugly ogre!" They judge me before they even know me - that's why I'm better off alone...
Donkey: You know, Shrek... when we first met, I didn't think you were a big, stupid, ugly ogre.
Shrek: Yeah, I know. 
Again, not exactly subtle, but the point is anything but moot. Constantly having opinions on who and what people are before you've met them has caused thousands of deaths for thousands of years. If you take anything from this post, it should be this belief: you don't know someone until you have a conversation with them.

Shrek knows this, but all the ridicule and abuse has left him hardened. However, he has a particular soft spot for Fiona. He feels particularly connected to her because she’s the only one he knows that has gone through the public shaming of being an ogre. No one other creature is hated more, and its through this undeserved hate that Shrek and Fiona connect. She knows what its like. They have a bond that cannot be replicated with any other person. And this bond is based on a mutual sense of rejection, not attractiveness.

This is solidified during the ending of the film, where Fiona is given a choice: live with the evil Farquad, or go back with Shrek to the swamp. She ultimately chooses Shrek, and they kiss, which according to the legend will break the spell cast skin is still the color of peas, and her frame is still hulking.
Shrek: Fiona? Are you all right?
[Fiona looks at herself, and sees she is still an ogre]
Princess Fiona: Yes. But, I don't understand. I'm supposed to be beautiful.
Shrek: But you are beautiful.
 She and Shrek both live happily ever after, both having embraced and accepted their respective external appearances and knowing that the thing that truly made them was something that would never change. So often in society we think that external beauty is what’s important. With every new product, you will see an advertisement with model selling it. Beauty is paired with success and health, so it was so refreshing to see a movies like Shrek defy expectations and give Americans something different.


  1. I really enjoyed reading your post! I totally agree with you about how our society only concentrates on external appearances. You also supported your argument with fantastic quotes from the movie. great job.

  2. Great post! It was very interesting reading this about the undertones about ideals portrayed in these films made for young children.

  3. I've never really thought about Shrek as a way to analyze what it means to actually love someone, and what it means to have a connection to someone. I think that Dreamworks does a very positive thing by reinforcing the idea about beauty through a medium aimed at children. If children learn about the negative stereotypes of beauty when they're young, I would assume that they would perpetuate those instilled positive ideas about beauty as they grow up.